Vol 2 No.2
A Newsletter Dedicated To Chet Baker And His Music
THE HIPSTERíS HERITAGE - A CD SURVEY
by Burkhard Schiller
(Ed Note: This article was originally published in NR. 7/8, 1992, in the German JAZZ PODIUM. The author and Gudrun Ednress, the PODIUM editor, have given permission for translation/reprinting. The translation and any faults are wholly the responsibility of the European editor (and his American wife). This "reprint" gives a very good market overview.)
Bremen, Germany - Chet Baker died four years ago. The end of his life mirrored a large part of his existence. Once again more was written about the circumstances of his death than about his music. Musically what remains of Chet Baker is pre-eminently a rich opus which one can completely oversee. Whether there will be successors or possible the founding of a Chet Baker musician "school" is not predictable.
In todayís time of "always faster, bigger and more beautiful" will Chet Bakerís music approach be the basis for a school? Chet Baker was an absolute master of understatement, of the economy in the placement of tones, and of spontaneous, critical discrimination between the important and the unimportant. For him, there was no value in the meaningless and no need to explain. He left all that out and confined himself to the essence. To play even fewer notes than he did would have meant not to play at all.
So Chet Baker, without doubt, contributed to a musical hygiene which can help us music consumers become resistant to acoustic pollution from high-powered and high-sound-level musicians. Where others attack the listener with vast numbers of tones, Chet Baker was content with a minimal presentation of a few, but boundlessly beautiful and touching notes.
In the past few years, those who are interested in even love, Chet Baker and his music have had to sort out a flood of the most variable presentations of his work. Over 30 new CDís from or with Chet Baker, along with a long list of tributes to him, have come on the market. When we examine this mountain, we will come in contact with the enthusiasts, the collectors, and swindlers and gangsters, the homage makers, and also the copy cats, the imitators.
1. THE ENTHUSIASTS
Since Chet Bakerís death, the Spaniard Jordi Pujohl and Italian Paolo Piangiarelli have turned out to be enthusiasts. With new issues and reissues on their Fresh Sound and Philology labels, they have contributed to the understanding and assessment of the Baker opus.
From Fresh Sound has come Chet Baker Live At The Trade Winds 1952, a CD which, with Out of Nowhere from March 24, 1952, contains the first documentation of the young Chet Baker. This title, as well as the other seven takes from the Monday Night Sessions in August of the same year, represent typical musical products of their time. Chet Baker stands out with both quiet as well as very fast numbers. His tone is problem-free, identifiable. The CD has a lousy tone (the saxophones sound basically like scratchy violins), but it does have a value as a document.
Chet Baker was already well known when he played a series of titles with his "Crew" in July, 1956. A Japanese CD of the same title has been out for a long time. On Chet Baker Quintet At the Forum Theater, Fresh Sound (with the exception of one title) completes the material from this "Crew", which doubtless was one of the most brilliant combos ever to play with Chet Baker. Baker played his trumpet with instinctive sureness. Together with his partners, he shifted between the sound of the Baker/Mulligan Quartet and an enlightened bop-ideal. This missing title from the Forum performance appears on Ensemble and Sextet. This CD is by itself important because of the takes from The Sextet from September, 1954, documenting one of the rare musical meetings of Chet Baker and Bob Brookmeyer.
From a much later time comes the long unknown session, Burniní At Backstreet, February, 1980. Chet Baker is in a condition that was exceptional for his last decade. His otherwise so frequent embouchure and physical problems are not at all to be heard. He persuades more with overwhelming power, long solos, and unexpected attacks. It is, however, painfully clear that his group canít in any way come close to Bakerís musical level. This explains some of Chetís explosive verbal duels and fits of anger, which are clearly documented on the CD.
Only one year later, in April, 1981, another before heard recording, Live At Fat Tuesdayís was issued. Chet Baker plays his then standard program of songs, with the reunion with his old companion Bud Shank being a high point.
Philology is the one-man business of Paolo Piangiarelli, who often adds touching homage's to his "master" on the Baker editions. Evidently he made many, many private tapes of Baker performances, such that he calls himself "Chet Bakerís Dean Benedetti". He has announced 10 CDís for the near future.
Haig Ď53 - The Other Pianoless Quartet includes a meeting with Stan Getz. The title gives the correct clue: it really is a continuation of the Mulligan Quartet - with Getz replacing Mulligan. These trusted combinations gave Chet Baker a lot of confidence.
The CD Newport Years/Vol. 1 belongs to the interface of Chet Bakerís first European tour. Numbers from the Newport Jazz Festival 1955 (with among others Getz, Cohn, Mulligan) are coupled with European numbers. While Newport confirms Chet Bakerís top position in different groups, the European part offers partly unusual meetings with Caterina Valente and the Edelhagen Orchestra. In contrast, Chet Baker in Europe 1955 contains numbers of a completely different caliber. Absolutely great are the three pieces made with Dick Twardzik in Mainz in September 1955. This powerful pianist, who often played surprising improvisations, died a few weeks later in Paris. Despite the absolutely terrible sound quality, this CD is worth hearing just because of Twardzik.
A big leap into the year 1985: Chet Baker was touring Italy with a symphony orchestra. Their music was brought out a few years ago on Soul Note (Symphonically). On Goodbye, Chet, a sample of the performances is presented, followed by two versions of a trivial Lament. This is a CD for the hard core of admirers.
On the other hand, Live From The Moonlight was made for everyone. Those wanting to hear Chet Baker at his best in concert should grab this CD, which was taped on November 24, 1985, in Macerata. Of all the live cuts of the last years, this represents the outstanding selection. With his beloved drum-less trio Chet Baker leads his companions Michel Graillier and Massimo Moriconi through the he program with instinctive sureness. Cheat Baker on this CD is in such good shape that he could play his arrangements without hesitation, even instinctively.
Naima (The Unusual Chet/Vol 1) is a very mixed happening. Here the selection is stretched from a 1983 session (with Hank Jones, Red Mitchell and Shelley Manne) to the 1987 Naima (with Kirk Lightsey and Rocky Knauer). The recording quality is only bearable to real collectors.
In contrast, A Night At The Shalimar and Little Girl Blue are good. The latter features the Italian pianist Enrico Pieranunzi, a strong partner. Pieranunziís sharing the burden is rather fitting because Baker is not power-driven and takes many breaks. The atmosphere of his very last studio performance from March 1988 is very quiet and stately.
The following CDís are not just for collectors of the high points of Chet Bakerís musician life. Almost all are important and indispensable.
On September 13, 1953, Chet Baker performed at the Lighthouse in Hermosa Beach with a variety of partners. We find the recordings from that night on Witch Doctor. Baker is not yet the sophisticated trumpeter heard on the later Pacific Jazz recordings. He is completely in the style of classic be-bop and hard-bop.
The American label Columbia, which always had a good ear for commercially viable jazz, acquired from Pacific Jazz the rights to a session with Chet Baker. Chet Baker With Strings is a mixed, because partly kitschy, result. This one is only for those who like him.
Letís take a giant step to a great accomplishment: In France in late 1990, Two A Day, a session from December 29, 1978, came on the market. This is a musically expressive ballad record, technically faultlessly recorded. Next to Bakerís playing, piano player Phil Markowitz excellently creates moods of quietness, seeming static.
Just Friends isnít listed in any discography. Chet Baker performed in Zurich on October 10, 1979, in an almost weary and unfocused condition and just about avoided playing. In contrast, his outstanding lyrical ballad side comes through on the Belgian production Chet Baker - Steve Houben - especially on the wonderful Sam Rivers ballad Beatrice. Chet Baker is backed by capable musicians (Steve Houben/Bill Frisell). This reissue, despite partly defective CD overplaying, is to be greeted warmly.
Patrao verifies that Chet Baker could shine with long, thoughtful, lyrical solos not only in Europe but also in an American studio. Ron Carter brought Chet into the studio. Although this session is starkly influenced by the strong star bassist, Baker persuades in a richly varying selection of songs, especially with the use of the mute.
Three imports from Japan, September Song, Star Eyes and Live At New Morning present Baker in 1983 along with two well-known protagonists: Baker made his Steeple Chase entry (No Problem) with Duke Jordan, while he closed the cycle for the Danish company with the bassist Lungaard (Sunny Gets Blue ). Itís worth having these CDís: Duke Jordan drives Chet Baker forward with clear-as-glass playing, Jesper Lungaard (and Leo Mitchell) gives the music solid backing. In a few up tempo standards. Chet Baker canít keep up the constancy. He breaks his run here and there to build in pauses.
Bakerís third wife, Carol, announced in 1991 a series of CDís that are to come from the archives of the drummer Art Frank or from an archive Baker himself is supposed to have. Built. That Baker saved an archive seems hard to believe when one considers his chaotic lifestyle. Live At Buffalo, the first issue of this series, is a live cut like many. Nothing special in tone quality or musically is offered.
Shortly before his death, Chet Baker was in a German studio with Wolfgang Lackerschmid, Rocky Knauer and Nicolo Stilo. The result is Originals. The low level breathing and soft way Chet was playing at the time is clear. When Nicola gets going musically, Chet can hardly drown out his flute. The result is an exciting dialogue, especially between these two friends.
III SWINDLERS, GANGSTERS, AND CROOKS
This chapter could be really thick. Chet Bakerís way of life let him fall more than once into the hands of highwaymen while he was alive. Some of them and what they have done posthumously to him seem almost the more immoral.
Little respect for tradition is shown on the reissue of Albertís House, in any case Chet Bakerís worst-ever session. On the German issue, all titles are arbitrarily shortened, some by about 20 seconds.
Also highly unreliable is the German company West Wind (but not only them), with their Chet Baker reissues. Broken Wing, which has been out for a long time has been reissued, unchanged, as Chet Baker In Paris/Vol II. Not only the title of the CD is misleading (there is no Vol I), but also the liner notes show a high level of ignorance.. Names of the musicians and songwriters are wrong.. The egregious "Burk van Heusen" (instead of Johnny Burk and Jimmy van Heusen) is almost feeble-minded. As if that werenít enough, the session date given is wrong, while the session location is moved from the studio to "Le Dreher." Well ... but money will be made.
The unspeakable CD Out of Nowhere comes from 1983. No one would have thought that the renowned company Milestone could have produced such a technically awful issue of a familiar live performance from deep in the heart of Oklahoma.
Be very careful of Heartbreak. This CD is clearly Wim Wigtís revenge for having lost to Enja the rights to Chet Bakerís "Last Great Concert" in Hanover. Wim Wigt, the head of Timeless, believes that the last big session should have come out on his label. Numbers that Chet Baker played years earlier with a trio and a quartet have been dug up three years after his death and mucked-up with an orchestra for Heartbreak. This action should be rejected first on ethical grounds, because Chet could not either wish it or reject it. On musical Grounds, too, the "concept" doesnít go far: throughout, even a deaf person could hear that the production originated in another context and that the later processing has no relationship to the original. A really negative example is the way the orchestral processing smothers and completely disturbs the rhythmic quality of Chet Bakerís voice on All of You.
IV HOMAGES AND COPY CATS
In the year after Chet Bakerís death, the first musical dedications and homages came out. These issues are for the most part interesting and worth listening to. This is particularly true of the works of musicians who played with Chet. Picardo del Fra and Enrico Pieranunzi, for example, formed a not unimportant part of Chetís social life in his last years. Their performance gives witness to their memories and view about Chet Bakerís feelings and personal style.
The one homage which was played during Chetís lifetime is To Chet, from Giovanni Tommaso. The CD shows the excellent level that Italian jazz had reached by the end of the 80ís. Based on a classical (jazz) understanding of form, the frame is over and over broadened through successful atmospheric excursions.
In January 1989, Frank Strazzeri recorded with a classic trio I Remember You, a homage to Chet Baker. This came on the market toward the end of 1990. Frank Strazzeriís trio recordings are obviously completely under the influence of the recordings made with Chet Baker for Bruce Weberís film Letís Get Lost. Overall Frank Strazzeri achieves a persuasive and feeling remembrance from the viewpoint of a sensitive pianist.
An example closer to plagiarism is A Portrait of Chet from the Georgie Fame/Ellen Helmus Sextet. This is true not only for the English rhythm and blues singer Georgie Fame, who, like his Australian colleague Vince Jones, copied note of note Chet Baker arrangements. Remarkable, but also irritating, is the confidence with which the trumpeter Niels Tausk imitates Bakerís playing
In contrast, the ambitious Some Other Time is truly more strongly abstracted and unusual. Under the direction of Richie Beirach, the onetime Baker colleagues Michael and Randy Brecker, George Mraz, and John Scofield, supported by Adam Nussbaum (the only one who never played with Chet) pursue a path that is not an imitation but rather seeks to create the atmosphere of Chet Bakerís musical style. They were highly successful in this intent. The numbers go way beyond a silly tribute or reminiscences. They develop a stand-alone high quality. One can only wish for more of the same broader and further development of Chet Bakerís music and style. Equally notable are the sensitive liner notes from Richie Beirach. The music and the text should be valued as a kind of (late) bow to Baker from the American market.
Ricardo del Fra, who played on many of the later Baker recordings, presents a very ambitious work. On the cover of his A Sip Of Your Touch he writes the dedication, "A Chet, maestro elegante di musica e silenzi." He conjures up exactly this stillness when he celebrates his duets with Dave Liebman, Art Farmer, Michel Gould, Michel Graillier, and Enrico Pieranunzi. The title Chet, written by Pieranunzi, is one of the high points of the Ricardo del Fra CD. This title also appears on the CD with Phil Woods and the Space Jazz Trio, Philís Mood. Although there was no musical contact between Woods and Baker, Woods succeeds in giving Baker an empathic and understanding bow.
While not so designated, it becomes quickly clear in looking at the program the Never Let Me Go is a planned homage to Chet Baker. Bakerís longtime friend Jacques Pelzer and Pelzerís Open Sky Unit (Barney Wilen, Michel Graillier) present only titles that belong to Chetís song book. Art and musical quality give this CD the same top rating as Some Other Time; first class jazz is presented in an unprecedented, sensitive way.
With I Remember You, guitarist Philip Catherine, bassist Hein van der Geyn, and trumpeter Tom Harrell record an impressive tribute to Chet Baker. All three played with Chet. Tom Harrell towers in this very good session. He plays with technical excellence and perfectly achieves Chetís tone. The latter is not surprising, as for years Tom Harrellís closeness to Chet Baker has been no secret.
Chet Baker also left his traces in pop music. The German new psychedelic "Rausch" on their Indi(s) Collection Who Killed Chet Baker?). This "velvet underground"/hard-rock has little to do with Chet Baker. The trumpeter Rainer Winterschladen is mixed into the background in a pitiless way.
In contrast, the concept album Pop Pop from American Rickie Lee Jones is impressive. The title is a complete tease, because the selection of titles and the musician style is really "jazz jazz". Rickie Lee Jonesí own experience of paying dues makes the interpretations emotionally believable and they leave the listener affected. It may not be well known the Rickie Lee Jones in an interview (JAZZIZ 10/11, 199, p.. 69ff) talked about Chet Baker as an influence on her interpretation. Her musical philosophy would be subscribed to by Chet: "I find that the more notes you put in on your own, the more you get involved in showing what you can do, instead of simply stating the emotion of the song."
CONVERSATION WITH BUD SHANK
18 May 1991
Bud Shank, alto saxophonist and pioneer West Coast jazzman, was there at the beginning of the Cool Jazz era. He and Chet Baker did many recordings together. Bud responded to my initial query with a call of support for our attempt to honor Chet and jazz with a newsletter.
Although born in Ohio, and associated with the West Coast musically, Bud has North Carolina ties. As an army brat, he lived in Durham, North Carolina, for the last three years of high school and attended the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
During high school and college, Bud traveled with the Johnny Satterfield Orchestra. Entering UNC as a music major, he stayed long enough to realize that he was learning more music with Satterfield than with the music department. Bud switched his major to business and continued to leave every Friday afternoon for gigs, returning in time for Monday classes. Most holidays were spent playing for dances. After his junior year at UNC, he dropped out to go on the road. Bud played with both Charlie Barnett and Stan Kenton before going on his own.
In the decade of the sixties, Leroy Ostransky notes in UNDERSTANDING JAZZ that only twelve jazz figures and groups made the BILLBOARD "Hot 100". Bud reports that MICHELLE by Bud Shank and Chet Baker was one of the twelve. Many jazz musicians were doing covers of popular songs because the demand for mainstream jazz had almost dried up. MICHELLE was a cover of the Beatles song. When the bottom dropped out, some artists went to Europe where jazz was still very well respected and jazz musicians were in demand. Others stayed home and did studio work, commercial jingles, and film scores. Bud stayed in the states and did all of the above.
He played on the soundtracks of SUMMER OF Ď42, THE SANDPIPER, THE THOMAS CROWN AFFAIR, and at least 150 others which didnít come to mind immediately. He does recall working with the arranger/composers: Quincy Jones, Dave Grusin and Johnny Mandel. Robert Redfordís first movie, WAR HUNT, produced by Dennis and Terry Sanders, was another project as a composer. Later the Sanders brothers asked him to score a small documentary, PURSUIT OF PEACE. Bud, Chet and Clare Fischer played the score.
After living in Los Angeles since age 19, Bud and his wife went to Port Townsend, Washington, for a jazz festival. They maintained their condo in Marina Del Rey, CA, also had one in Du Maui for a short time, thought about living there, but then found Port Townsend. The experience of living in a secluded artists colony near the Pacific Ocean became a permanent arrangement in 1986. The Centrum Foundation sponsors many cultural events during the year. The week-long Master Classes in Jazz and the Jazz Festival which follows are Budís babies. This year, in addition to Bud, the faculty includes: Bobby Shew, trumpet; Jiggs Whigham, trombone; Jay Clayton, vocalist; Bill Ramsay, baritone sax; Pete Christlieb, tenor sax; Larry Coryell, guitar; George Cables, piano; John Clayton, bass; Dick Oatis, alto sax: Don Lanphere, tenor sax; Jeff Hamilton, drums; Dave Barduhn, piano/theory; Dave Goedecke, reading band workshop; Roy Cummings, big band jazz studies, Bob Ricci, jazz historyí Halper Trio, resident ensemble. In eight years the number of students has increased from 30 to 175.
In the past Bud has played the tenor and baritone sax as well as the flute. Now he concentrates on the alto exclusively, his first love. In addition to the activities in Port Townsend, Bud still tours with his own group. Shorty Roberts and he have revitalized the Lighthouse All Stars. The Lighthouse evokes memories of sand, sea, a few cool ones, beautiful people and beautiful sounds. In the 50ís Bud and Chet were regulars there.
We reflected on the new, young generation of critics who are trying to place West Coast Jazz in proper perspective. In the 50ís several powerful critics were very negative about West Coast Jazz and for no apparent reason discredited the movement as making no contribution to jazz. Rational reasons are very hard to come by which would explain this phenomenon. Could they have been jealous when the press began reporting the publicís acceptance of Cool Jazz? Was this because they had missed the big story, scooped by their non-expert colleagues? Could truly innovative jazz, in their opinion, originate only in New York? Whatever the reason, many of us believe they missed the call, and missed it badly.
Younger critics who werenít even born in the 50ís are now doing in-depth research and careful analysis of the evidence to place West Coast Jazz in the proper perspective. Would it be that West Coast jazz was ahead of its time? It wouldnít be the first time that the public recognized excellence before the critics. Ted Gioia of Stanford University and Paul De Barros of Seattle are two of the young men who are doing research.
When asked about the favorite record he did with Chet, Bud thought is would be CHET BAKER AND STRINGS. All the musicians were under contract to Pacific Jazz and Columbia hired a whole package, including producer Dick Bock, Chet on trumpet, Russ Freeman on piano, Zoot Sims on tenor, Bud on alto sax and alto flute, Joe Mondragon on bass, and Shelly Manne on drums, plus unnamed string players. Columbia paid the musicians scale, but provided everything that was needed to do a superior recording. If you donít have this CD run right out and buy it. Bud plays on four tracks, which are superb. The trumpet and alto sax harmony on WHAT A DIFFERENCE A DAY MAKES is sensuous and wonderful. THE WIND, a Russ Freeman composition, is a treat with Bud on flute. Yes, Ira Gitler of the liner notes, it is an alto flute All of the other tracks are terrific too. With this stellar peer group to challenge him, Chet is at the top of his form.
This Jazz Masterworks reissue was scheduled to be released before Chetís death in 1988, but it came out in 1991. Read the producerís note to find out about the delay. (If you refuse to get the CD, weíll tell you in the next issue.)
Now for the really big question: What was Chet really like.
"Chet was very gentle, quiet, nice. He was the way he played, not an extrovert. Didnít brag about anything. Now, when he was ripped, heíd borrow $20.00 and never intend to pay it back." When someone is using, of course, they often do things they wouldnít do when they are clean. Bud never was a junkie. Although he still likes to have a drink, he believes in moderation.
I wondered how he managed to stay clean when so many musicians around him were using. His first reply was, "I donít know - maybe itís because I didnít like chemicals and needles." I wondered why others choose to use. We agree that is no easy answer to that question; however Bud talked about the everyday pressure of trying to do work which pleases an audience and also pleases the artist. All musicians want to be appreciated and loved when they play. There is an awful feeling when that does not happen. The junk was readily available and offered a high that covered this and any other pain. Many close to go for the quick fix rather than long-term solutions.
Bud obviously knew where he wanted to go and how to get there. Early one he realized that you donít have to be a music major to be a musician. His uncommon talent, good common sense together with his business acumen has helped him get where he wants to be:
1. Sharing his music with his students and fans;
2. Recording what he wants, when he wants; and
3. Continuing to support those who are setting the record straight about West Coast jazz.
CHET BAKER ON VIDEO
Larry B. Whitford
I have seen or heard Chet Baker on six videos. This article is a review of those videos for our subscribers.
The first video released, Candy, was recorded and televised on June 30th, 1985, in the Sonet library in Stockholm. The video was released on SONY JO466 and the LP/CD on Gazell GJCD-1001. The musicians on the session were Chet on trumpet, Michele Graillier on piano and Jean Louis Rassinfosse on bass. Bassist Red Mitchell interviews Chet between numbers on the video and he and Chet play a duet at the end with Red on piano. The tunes on the video are Candy, with Chet on vocal and trumpet and Love For Sale. Chet and Red close out the 30 minute video with My Romance. The session was very relaxed, well photographed and recorded (except for a bad spike on Nardis). Graillier and Rassinfosse were in good form as was Chet. The LP/CD also has Nardis, Bye Bye Blackbird, Sadwalk, Tempus Fugit and Redís Blues.
The next video was Chet Baker At Ronnie Scottís, recorded during a job at Ronnie Scottís club in London on the 6th of June, 1986 and featured Chet on vocal and trumpet, Michel Graillier an piano and Ricardo del Fra on bass. Van Morrison joined the group for one number, Send it the Clowns, and Elvis Costello, who interviews Chet between numbers, joins the trio for The Very Thought Of you, You Donít Know What Love Is, and Iím a Fool To Want You.
This 60 minute video was released on Polygram #0-81 223-3. Besides the numbers mentioned the group also performs Ellen David, Just Friends, Shifting Down, It I Should Lose You, My Ideal and Love For Sale. I am not sure why but I do not enjoy this video although I like the CD. It might be the lighting is too harsh or that Chet just is not in great form. Also I am not a fan of interspersing an interview between numbers. Itís fine the first couple of times you watch it but after that I end up "fast-forwarding" through it to get to the music. The companion CD in entitled Nightbird and is on the Essential label, ESMCD 015, with 9 tracks. There are 4 tracks on the CD that are not on the video, But Not For Me, Arborway, Nightbird and You Canít Go Home Again. Graillier and del Fra provide excellent backing and the video is well put together with a variety of camera shots of the group and the audience. The sound is good, the music is good and I enjoy listening to this session.
Also made in 1986 and released on video and LP/CD is the movie Round Midnight. Although Chet did not appear in the movie he recorded one number that is on the soundtrack, Fairweather, which features Chet on vocal and trumpet, Herbie Hancock on piano, Pierre Michelot on bass and Billy Higgins on drums. The video is from Warner Brothers, #11603 and 132 minutes long. The LP/CD is on Columbia #CK40464 and is 51 minutes in length.
The fourth video is My Funny Valentine - Chet Baker in Tokyo. It is on the Pioneer LDC label, #HM055-3396 and is approximately 60 minutes long. This concert in Tokyo was recorded on the 14th of June, 1987 at the Hitomi-Kmen-Kodo and there are two CDs that have also been issued. The group had Chet on vocal and trumpet, Harold Danko on piano, Hein Van Der Geyn on bass and John Engels on drums. Chet and the band are in excellent form for this concert which, in my opinion, is the best of the performance videos. In fact the recorded material from this appearance is some of the best Chet Baker music Iíve ever heard.
There are six tracks on the video, three of which are also on the CDs. Stella By Starlight, So Nice To Come Home To, Beatrice, My Funny Valentine and Seven Steps to Heaven. So Nice, Beatrice and Seven Steps are the tracks not on the companion CDs, which are on the Storyville label and entitled, Memories (#K32Y6270) and Four (#K32Y6281). Memories has five tracks; Stella By Starlight, For Minors Only, Almost Blue, Portrait In Black And White and My Funny Valentine for over 55 minutes. Four has six tracks; Four, Arborway, Iím A Fool To Want You, Seven Steps To Heaven, For All We Know and Broken Wing and is 60 minutes long. The video is well photographed and the sound is excellent. Chet is at his best, Harold Danko is just dazzling, Hein Van Der Geyn is very much on beat and John Engles shows why he is one of the very few drummers Chet will use. Stella is probably my favorite number on the video, setting the mood for the whole viewing experience. Of the CDs, Four is my favorite with Arborway taking the nod as my top tune. It is the longest track on the CD and done very up-beat. Harold Dankoís solo just dances all over the place, inspiring Chetís solo which is his best of the concert and Engelsí cymbal work quietly drives the whole group. The next video is Letís Get Lost released in 1989 on BMG #3090-3-N and is 120 minutes long. Enough has already been said about this movie so I will forbear comment on the content. There are numerous numbers on this video, from early television appearances to a live vocal performance (I believe in Cannes, France) and the end credits appear over an early Italian movie scene with Chet on the soundtrack doing Ariverderci. The companion CD is on RCA Novus #3054-2-N and has Chet on vocals and trumpet, Frank Strazzeri on piano, John Leftwich on bass, Ralph Penland on drums and Nicola Stilo on guitar and flute. There are 1 tracks on the CD; Moon And Sand, Imagination, Youíre My Thrill, For Heavenís Sake, Everytime We Say Goodbye, Ghost Of A Chance, Daydream, Zingaro, Blame It On My Youth, My One And Only Love, Everything Happens To Me and Almost Blue. The tunes are good, the performances are good but there are really no upbeat numbers and the overall feeling is a "sameness". The CD is 63 minutes long.
The last video in this article is Chet Baker: The Last Days, produced by Radio Netherlands Television and released in 1990. This documentary has been shown on television in the Netherlands and at a fund raiser for the Jazz Photographers Association of Southern California. I donít know if the video is available commercially but, if it is, buy it. It focuses on the last three or four days of Chetís life with live shots in Rotterdam and Amsterdam. There are interviews with Russ Freeman, William Claxton, Rob Bloos (the Dutch policeman in charge of the case), Chetís manager Wim Wigt, Peter Huijts, trumpeter Avert Hekkema, Rob van Bavel, Max Bolleman, producer Gerry Teekens and musicians Jacques Pelzer and Philip Catherine.
Through still photographs, videos and television, the documentary back-flashes through Chetís life. The really good parts (in my opinion) are the music cuts: from Candy, At Ronnie Scottsí, the Ď83 concert with Stan Getz in Stockholm, with Jacques Pelzer, with Philip Catherine and with Nicola Stilo. This documentary makes no moral judgments, statements of revelations. It is just 60 minutes of Chet Baker, his life, his death and his music.